Earlier this year, I started flashing dogs on the streets and parks of Paris after moving from Hong Kong in late 2018. The project, ‘Every Dog Must Have Its Day’, sprouted out of a deep love for these furry four-legged friends but also out of a need to connect to the environment I found myself in. Now, I have been moving from country to country all of my life, so I am used to adapting and starting afresh even if it was hard at times being at heart somewhat of an introvert and having to consistently battle shyness and low self-confidence. But for some reason, this time, I was finding it more difficult than expected to find my feet, make friends, learn French, make a living as a freelance photographer and just dare to open my front door.
Setting out to the streets with my simple point and shoot camera and approaching dogs and at times their owners, gave me a sort of purpose and a sense of joy and belonging. The brief social interaction and observation lifted my spirits and with every startled dog and a smile and nod from their human owners, I inched a little closer to Paris.
This project is on-going and I have decided to start giving more context to the individual dogs which I encounter on my playful journey through the city. The one you see in this post is an example of when what I expected to shoot, was not what the outcome was.
What I expected: I saw this black ball of fluff peacefully snoozing at the entrance door to a small shop in Le Marais and thought he was framed perfectly between the bottom of the door and the posters above. That was the shot I intended to get.
What actually happened: As soon as I approached the dog, pulled out my camera and pressed the shutter, the dog jumped up startled and began barking, his face hidden behind the posters. I thought I missed the shot. I thought it would be a throw-away. But when I got the film developed and received my scans, I was surprised at the result and the humour the frame carried. I hadn’t even noticed the poster of ‘Le Pauvre Mechant Loup’ ( The Big Bad Wolf) nor had a noticed the tennis ball at the dog’s feet when I initially shot the image. Sometimes, the unexpected is better than the expected.
By using a medium such as photography as a method to connect and create, lessons continually unravel even when you don’t specifically seek them. A simple action, like pressing the shutter, can put into motion the unexpected which wouldn’t have come into existence without your participation, observation and interpretation of the fascinating, ever-changing world (and all the unique fluffy friends in it) just outside your front door.
All you have to do to start, is open it.